Paramore's Hayley Williams keeps it upbeat

Spritely punk singer says she has no interest in expressing her inner Axl Rose

July 29, 2010|By Evan Haga, Special to The Baltimore Sun

If punk rock — in all its various styles and sub-genres — is about being contrarian, Paramore might be the most punk band on the planet.

The Tennessee-rooted outfit has been nominated for Grammys, sold millions of albums and plays a sort of teen-friendly pop-punk that's hooky, vivacious and surprisingly wholesome. (The band makes no bones about its Christian faith, but its music isn't overtly religious.)

At the center of all the attention — albeit reluctantly — is Hayley Williams, a sprightly woman well-known for her shock of red-dyed hair and powerhouse vocals. With a guest spot on rapper B.o.B's hit single "Airplanes," Williams' voice has become a constant on pop radio. Saturday, she'll be at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Question: You've been praised for being a relentlessly positive, moral front person. Any chance you'll find your inner Axl Rose one day?

Answer: [Laughs] If you haven't noticed, all the "Axl Roses" of the 21st century just look like a joke. And staying positive is definitely a choice. You have to decide whether or not your life is worth wasting on negativity.

Q: You've expressed displeasure with how the media tends to focus on you alone rather than Paramore as a whole. One band you toured with in 2009 — No Doubt — had very similar problems in the mid-'90s. Did Gwen Stefani have any words of advice?

A: It's not so much anything she said but how the band as a whole handled the road, the stage, the press — everything. They seemed to be on top of the world without a care. And even if they aren't, the fact that they are still touring and writing albums was enough encouragement for me.

Q: Paramore played the Vans Warped Tour for years, but has since gone on to higher-profile tours. What do you miss about it the most?

A: The family atmosphere, the sunburns — all of it made us the band we are today. But what I miss most is what we had while we were there. I'm not sure if we did it again for a whole summer that it would feel that way again. Or maybe it would. Maybe we should try it and see.

Q: You turned 21 last December. How'd you celebrate?

A: Imagine a gathering of a ton of people who all look like they would never hang out in a million years, all dancing together while wearing roller skates. Fun fact: My cake was a tribute to [the movie] "28 Days Later," only it said "21 Years Later."

Paramore headlines the Honda Civic Tour, which also features Tegan and Sara and New Found Glory, Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $21-$36. Call 877-435-9849 or go to

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